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Grim Reaper's Release

When the gruesome murder of a pastor is mysteriously caught on tape, what will happen to the vampire race? Suddenly, the world knows about vampires. The Cullens need to get out of Forks. And fast. But what will happen when the Volturi wants to interfere? Or the Southern Armies? And, more importantly, who are these strange vampire twins? Photobucket

...I've been away for a seriously long time, haven't I? O.O

Well, I'm back with a new story and I still haven't decided if I should continue my other stories. A lot's been happening in my life and I'm sure my feelings on all of my other stories have changed drastically. Anyway, this is just an idea that's been floating around my head for probably a year now but I've never really developed it into more than just a smidge of an idea.

Just a few warnings before I continue: This story is seriously...morbid. It's not really a good story at all. There's violence, world domination, chaos, and the world kind of goes insane...but it has a happy ending! Promise!

Also, the chapters are gonna be really long on this. Like, seriously long. It's not that I want to get this done in less chapters or whatever, it's just that in each chapter, a few different character's point of view's on different things need to be included to add other factors of the story. I mean, if I had each new point of view a chapter, we'd probably be up to 50 chapters by the time I get to the middle.

That being said, I guess a few things you should know is that I don't know when I'll be getting new chapters up. I hope, with winter break here, I'll have this story done by the middle of February, maybe? I was planning on having this only 7 chapters at the maximum, but the farther I get into this story, the longer it seems. And, I hope, I'll be getting each chapter up each week. I've already written chapter 2 and 3 but I'm gonna post them weekly.

Next, I seriously need to thank my best mate Kira with this story. She gave me a HUGE idea for it and has been such an amazing supporter of all my stories from the start!

*breathes in relief* Alright, I think that's all for now. Now that I've gotten it all out, go read. I'm sure the story is much more interesting than my babbling. *snort*

35. Noiseless Screams

Rating 3.6/5   Word Count 10675   Review this Chapter

Leah's Point of View

"Favorite vacation spot?"

I sighed at Brody's question. This had been going on for hours, this endless questioning. In a way, I enjoyed it. Before we had even gotten started, my ever hungry shape shifter stomach decided we needed some junk food and so now we sat on the hardwood floor of the unused office, bags of snacks and containers of cookies piled around us, complete with a six pack of root beer.

Some of his questions were personal with answers that no one but I knew and, for others, they were generic, boring questions. It felt surprisingly good to share some of these details with someone other than Seth. Like I had been burying so much underneath, refusing to think some things or remember some memories.

"Never really been anywhere except La Push," I mumbled, "Unless you count this adventure as a vacation." I plucked a chip out of the bag and bit into it and ignored Brody's incredulous expression.

"No vacations?" He took a swig of his bottle of root beer and shook his head. "You deprived child."

I rolled my eyes and snorted. "La Push is just very...close. Everyone knows each other and knows each other's business. Once you're there, you're there for life." Up until two weeks ago, I never thought I'd even get out of the wet state of Washington. It was almost scary to think about how much different life was now from then.

He frowned and ate another Cheeto. "I've never been to the west coast. This is the furthest west I've ever come."

"So then where's your favorite vacation spot?"

He smiled around the lips of the amber bottle before setting it down on the floor. "London, most likely. If we're staying in the US, I'd have to say northern Maine."

I nearly choked on the double stuffed Oreo I had in my mouth. "London? When they hell were you there and why?" This guy had been to more places than I could even imagine. I had long ago decided I would never get overseas to foreign countries. It was just something I was not meant to do. Not only did I lack the money but I lacked a reason to go there in the first place.

"Work, mostly," he muttered as he traced the wooden plank with a finger. "They had some unique test results from an elderly ill man and wanted me to take a look. They thought it was some sort of highly infectious disease. Could have been an epidemic."

Ooh. He officially had my interest. "What disease?"

He grinned like a giddy five year old. "Nope, can't tell. Sorry. Confidential."

My eyes narrowed at his bright eyes and taunting smile. That was so not fair. You can't just dangle a mouse in front of a cat and then pull it back."Oh, come on," I said with a roll of my eyes. "Who's gonna find out? Prime Minister Gordon Brown? I doubt he cares. Just spill."

Brody shook his head quickly. "I take my job very seriously," he said with comically wide eyes. "What happens in London, stays in London."

I grumbled. "You're so unfair. I should take all these yummy foods away and eat them myself." I eyed the bag of Chips Ahoy near his leg and considered using my quick reflexes to snatch it and place it in my lap.

With a sigh, he glared at me. "Fine. It was Yellow Fever."

The piece of Oreo caught in my throat. "Wait," I choked out, "Yellow Fever? Oh my God, it wasn't, though, right?"

Brody paused with his hand halfway emerged into the bag of chips. He began laughing as his whole form shook softly as he silently chuckled. I reached over and snatched the chip bag. "Spit it out! It wasn't, right?"

"I was lying," he finally exclaimed. "God, you're so gullible."

I froze and stared at him. Wait, what? "You're awful," I told him though my light hearted tone contradicted my words. "I don't know why I ever shared all this food with you."

He threw his head back and laughed again. "I went there when I was seventeen for a family vacation," he snickered. "My dad's side of the family lives there and we hadn't seen them in years."

My head slowly shook back and forth. "You suck," I told him.

His eyes rolled as he smothered a smile. "Not as bad as the vampires do." I snorted at his lame joke and popped open my third bottle of root beer, enjoying the quiet sizzle as I did so.

"True," I said as I brought the bottle to my lips. I hadn't fully brought Brody over to the dark side yet but he did see my side of things. I figured he always would like the vampires though I couldn't imagine why. He had confessed he found Renesmee charming and unique and the rest of the Cullens, a scientists' perfect specimen.

I suppose that was all I could ask for - him understanding why I had my opinion of vampires. He may not fully agree with it but at least he could sympathize why I disliked them so. And, thankfully, he didn't press the issue. He could see they were not a favorite topic of conversation for me.

"What do you think is going on out there?" he wondered almost silently. I turned my head to look out the window towards the glowing fires. I had no desire to be out there, immersed in crowds of unfamiliar vampires and in the middle of commotion.

No, I liked it much, much better inside with Brody. It was comfortable in the small, cozy office with greasy, fattening foods and carbonated soda. It seemed familiar to me in a way nothing else did. I could stay here for all of eternity and be happy, I realized. If I never stood from this spot again, I'd be fully content with stuffing cookies and chips in my mouth, washing it down with syrupy soda while speaking about things I hadn't thought about in years.

I shrugged. "The Romanians died," I told him. He hadn't of been able to hear their hollering and ruckus but I had. Someone had stepped in just in time to stop this place from going up in flames like a corny action movie with bad special effects.

Brody sucked in a large horrified gasp and then...froze. "Wait, which ones are those again?"

My laughter echoed into the glass bottle as I drank the soda. "The creepy ones. You know, short, one's got black hair, the other like platinum blonde." I began whispering eerily. "And they talk like this."

He stared at me in mild alarm for a moment before grinning. "Oh. Them. That's..."

"Don't even pretend to be saddened by the news," I said through my chuckling. He frowned for a moment before lifting one shoulder. "You never even met them."

"Were they there when you guys stormed the Williams Building?" He reached forward, over me, and pulled the bag of chips from my lap. I gulped at his sudden closeness and shook my head to clear my thoughts. Hopefully, the slight blush that I could feel gathering on my cheeks would blend right in with my natural skin color.

I thought for a moment. "Nope, I don't think so. Probably off planning world domination."

He paused and looked up at me, eyes frozen wide in fear. "Are you serious? World domination?"

"Well...maybe not exactly. But pretty close. They tried to blow up the house." I gestured over towards the window and then, like some younger, Native American version of Vanna White, signaled to the room we were in. Brody's eyes widened and his jaw fell open.

"You can't be serious."

I laughed, remembering the Yellow Fever incident. "Unlike some people, I tell the truth."

He sent me a half hearted glare. "When exactly did this go down?" I bit my lip and got up on my knees, peeking out past the window pane. The fires were quickly being extinguished as vampires scurried here and there with pails of water. I could see my Pack towards the right, watching with glowering faces as Jacob held Renesmee in his arms. Seth was next to Sam and I breathed a sigh of relief. At least he wasn't mingling with the vamps. That kid was way too interested in integration of species for his own good.

"Five, ten minutes ago," I replied. There were still several blooming fires in the distance, their flames like bright candles dusting the dark Texan countryside. And one by one, they slowly disappeared, like a gust of wind was snuffing them out.

He chewed thoughtfully. "Who killed them?"

I sat back on my butt and stretched out my legs as I leaned back on my palms. "Don't know. I think it was Chester...uh, he's like Maria's boy toy, if you don't know him. Tall, blondish hair, permanently snarling with this whole bad boy attitude." I thought for a moment. "Wait, do you even know Maria?"

He cracked a small smile. "Seen her from a distance, yeah. But I haven't really met many of the vampires except the Cullens. You've kind of locked me away up here." He winked as he reached into a pale blue bowl, bringing out a handful of cheddar Goldfish. I tried to wipe the proud smile off my face.

"Yeah, well, she's supposedly super badass," I mumbled as I bit into another cookie. Good thing I was a shape shifter, I thought. Or else all this crap would go straight to my thighs. "Like, really. She created all these baby vamps down here, using the house. You know Jasper? Yeah. He used to be her boy toy, too." I wiggled my eyebrows suggestively and Brody coughed out a laugh. "They're obviously not together anymore; Jasper's got Shortie now. But Maria's one hell of a leech."

He tossed the handful of Goldfish into his mouth and swallowed. "Should I stay away from her?"

I paused, my hand stilling in midair with a chip tightly enclosed in it. The very idea, the very thought, that Maria would even lay one hand on Brody pushed the possessive wolf side of me into danger mode. The chip crumpled under my grip and I opened my clenched fist, allowing the crisp crumbs to fall on the floor. My throat seemed unbearably tight and I swallowed down the rising lump.

Brody's brows rose in wonderment as to what was going on. I shuddered, allowing the fury to roll off of me, and shook my head. "No, she wouldn't hurt you anyway. Adam said no killing humans. Remember?"

He nodded slowly. "Yeah. What's the deal with him?"

I smiled as I piled the crumbs into a tiny pyramid of delicious potato bliss. "He and his sister are like, I dunno, as old as the Earth or something. Super powerful, too." I froze and looked up at him. "Don't mess with them," I warned. "Adam seems weirdly bipolar and, Eve, like a melodramatic Queen B."

He gulped. Loudly. "So, basically, you don't approach them. They approach you?" He looked a bit frightened, something I almost regretted. But I suppose it was best to at least caution him against the twins. They didn't seem like the type of rulers who took crap from anyone, let alone a 27 year old human who played with what they thought of as a chemistry kit for 5 year olds for a living.

"Yeah," I said. "Exactly. I mean, Adam's cool sometimes, I guess. He's just weird. One minute he's all about peace and love among all creatures and the next, he's yelling out orders and calling people out on their dirty thoughts. Eve's much more mellow but very theatrical. She's all about appearances, I think. Hence the elegant wardrobe." I smirked slightly, remembering her in her velvet cloak and dresses. "It doesn't matter if it's freakin' 101 degrees. She wears long sleeves and dresses down to the ground."

Brody shook his head side to side slowly. "Crime against fashion. I feel like I'm in What Not to Wear." I barked out a laugh and set my bottle on the ground.

"You know," I said softly as I turned to look outside, "we should actually probably go outside. I have a feeling something's going to happen soon." I couldn't quite explain it. It wasn't a sort of Alice-y feeling. There were no visions or anything. I just suddenly wanted to get out there.

His face stilled and he watched me through wary eyes. "Is this some sort of wolfish sixth sense?" He stood up, offering me his hand which I graciously accepted, and pulled me to my feet. I wrapped my arms around myself and turned my back on the window.

"Maybe? I don't think so; I think it's just intuition." He shrugged, accepting my answer, and walked towards the door. I paused and his eyes fell on my face. "We'll be back for this," I said softly as I nudged the Oreo container with my bare foot and then looked back up to him. "Or else mice will come."

He trembled in exaggerated fear. "Oh no; mice! Terrifying creatures they are."

I rolled my eyes. "Scarier then vamps, if you ask me." I stepped over the multiple colorful packages of food and towards him. He closed the door after me and I began walking down the dimly lit hall.

"Damn," he muttered, "it really got dark in here, didn't it?"

I placed my hand on the wall to straighten myself. "Yeah, well, they put out all the fires and this place doesn't have electricity. It's just candles and sunlight. Thank God they have plumbing."

Brody chuckled. "Outhouses. Yay."

I smiled at his unenthusiastic tone. "Don't forget the hairy spiders that always hide inside. Double yay."

We continued our way through the house which included me losing my balance many times, him catching me before I fell right on my face, and us cracking up every time we bumped into a piece of furniture. The steps were the messiest; he kept moving down onto a step when I hadn't moved off of it and we'd end up tumbling down a few more. I swear, my laughter could be heard throughout the house and, many times, I ended up clamping a hand over my mouth.

It was when I finally reached the floor, gasping for air from laughter, that I had the crap scared out of me.

"Having fun?" Adam said from across the front foyer. I gasped and fell backwards in fear, hitting Brody right in the chest which sent him flying backwards, too. I caught him right in time, my hand clutching onto his arm. Not often but sometimes, my creepy superhuman strength came in handy. This was one of those times.

"My God," I snapped, "way to scare the shit out of someone. Try making a sound next time, for crying out loud. Maybe knock on the wall or something? It's as dark as hell in here and you're sneaking up on people."

I could hear Adam's ghostly chuckle but couldn't see him. Brody straightened himself and stepped off of the stairs. "I'm sorry. I keep forgetting your eyesight is limited. Here."

A small candle just appeared five feet away on top of a table pressed against the dark blue wall. Leaning against it, looking quite amused with that kingly smirk of his, was Adam. Brody blinked several times, most likely trying to figure out if he was imagining the whole thing. I crossed my arms and glared at the male twin.

"What are you even doing in here?" I asked him. His lips turned upwards into a cheerful smile. "You know, everyone almost died out there a few moments ago because of your annoying little Romanian friends."

I felt Brody's warm hand creep up and wrap around my forearm, leaving a blazing handprint on my skin. He was obviously keeping in mind what I had just told him about the twins.

Adam's smile didn't falter once. His orange eyes flicked over me, resembling someone who was trying to figure out another. "The moon," he said quietly, "it weakens me a bit. Thankfully, the sun will be up in a few hours. And the Romanians, well, Chester handled the situation perfectly. Eve and I could not have done it any better."

"Chester almost did nothing," I remarked. "And then what would have happened? This whole place-"

"Ah, but I knew Chester would do something." He reached up and tapped the side of his head. Damn know-it-all.

I growled in annoyance. "Were you and Eve in here the whole time?" Somehow, the thought that those two had been wandering the halls while Brody and I talked floors above pissed me off a bit. I had thought we were alone.

Adam's eyes stared at me intently. "Yes," he replied truthfully. "But, please, we weren't eavesdropping on your little conversation. Hard to believe but we do have better things to do than that."

My jaw snapped shut tightly and I wrinkled my nose. "Whatever. Come on." I reached behind me and tugged on Brody's arm as I led him from the staircase. Adam didn't make one move as we walked past him towards the front door and when we reached it, I turned around and faced him.

He looked out of place, standing there alone against the wall with his head bowed. I could barely make out his sharp profile as he stared towards the ground. When I opened the door, allowing the nighttime air to swoosh in, he flinched ever so noticeably. "What is it, Leah?"

I swallowed nervously. "Are you planning on coming out once the sun's up?"

His head lifted and he looked at me with glowing eyes. "Before, actually. Eve and I will be out in a few moments to talk to everyone. Why?"

I pushed Brody out the door and stepped outside. I shrugged. "Just wondering, I guess. Is Eve around?" I hadn't seen her but, of course, with her dark wardrobe and black hair, she could have easily blended in. It wasn't like the house wasn't big enough to go unseen in.

Infinitesimally, his eyes darkened to a tarnished orange. Like rust. "Yes, do you need her for something?"

I could hear voices behind me, welcoming me back to the real world where it wasn't just Brody and me. I shook my head and pursed my lips. "Nah, not really. Just making sure she's around. Everything ok between you two?"

Personally, I didn't want to get in the middle of their sibling/romantic relationship. I could have cared less, even. Not being one for soap operas in the first place, I usually hated being drawn into relationship issues. But there was something disturbingly sad in his eyes. Something forlorn and cut off from the rest of the world. It made me curious as to why-

"Leah, please," he whispered tightly. "Everything is perfectly fine." He paused and glanced at something over my shoulder. "Your Pack needs you, as does your Imprint. Close the door on your way out, thank you."

My lips turned down in stiff disapproval. I wasn't a fool; I could smell the lie on him. I didn't press the issue further, however. I just grabbed the door by its knob and closed it behind me as I stepped outside of the large house, leaving the king of vampires alone to the chilly foyer, under a crystal chandelier.

On the porch, it seemed like one good old party of Washington creatures. The Cullens were there, spread all over the place as Carlisle and Edward spoke quietly in one corner, Rosalie and Emmett were doing...something in the distance, Alice and Jasper were having a hushed conversation on the steps, and Esme was talking to...Embry? Strange but I guess stranger things had happened.

Bella was teasing Jacob as he held Renesmee close to him and the Pack was here and there, either laughing about an inside joke or bashing on the leeches. I noticed Paul talking to Brody animatedly and rushed forward as a siren in my head went off.

If he said one bad thing about me, I swear, I'd...

"Leah! Here she is, Little Miss Sunshine in the flesh!" My steps slowed as I glowered at Paul's bright beaming. Brody turned and sent me a peculiar smile, probably trying to decipher whether Paul was sarcastic or serious.

I stopped near him and forced a smile. "What's going on here, Paul?"

He grinned wolfishly - pun intended - and shrugged. "Talking to your Imprint. Got a problem with that?" I gulped at glanced over to Brody, cheeks probably scarlet in embarrassment, but happily found him chuckling.

"Paul's actually not so bad," he said and Paul gave me a face that clearly demonstrated told you so.

"Fine. I'll just be over there with Jacob then," I murmured, shooting Paul numerous glares as I backed off and walked towards Jacob, Bella, and Renesmee. Halfway there, though, Renesmee's wide brown eyes connected with mine and I felt myself regretting my decision.

"What's up, Leah?" Jacob called out and I sighed as I kept moving towards them. "Everything ok?"

I rolled my eyes. "Oh yeah, great. Paul's just being a jerk."

He snorted. "When is he not one? Come on, Leah, the guy lives to embarrass others or at least put them down. It can't be so bad, though. Brody seems like a keeper." He gave a cheeky smile and I huffed as I looked away.

"Is Brody your boyfriend?" Renesmee chirped in a disgustingly sweet tone.

Slowly, I turned to face her. My eyes scanned her cherubic face and I found myself staring at her in repulsion. She looked so innocent, so manipulating through her innocent façade.

Bella reached forward and took her daughter out of Jacob's nearby grasp. Probably because she could see in my eyes how close I was to stealing the mutant from his arms and throwing her with an arm that would make any pitcher proud.

With a gulp, I looked away and towards Brody, whose back was to me. He was still conversing with Paul and though I'd like to believe it was impossible, they looked like they were getting along. Paul was smiling as he laughed in response to something Brody must have said. I found myself smiling, too.

"I don't know," I said honestly. And that was the first statement I ever directly said to the little girl before me.


Adam's Point of View

Leah's sudden absence made the house seem hauntingly empty, even if there were lively creatures right outside the very door. It was awfully simple once you were inside this house to feel separate from the outside world. I could hear their voices right outside the door, hear their thoughts and feel their emotions and so much more. But they didn't feel close to me at all.

They felt a million worlds away.

My eyes strayed on the door a moment after she had closed it until I heard the shuffling of papers inside the kitchen. I snapped my fingers and the little candle next to me puffed out, leaving wisps of smoke in the air as I walked towards the old fashioned kitchen.

"We need delegates," was the first thing that left my mouth when I paused in the doorway. Eve was leaning over the tabletop, reading a book she had found upstairs in the diverse library with an expression of complete interest on her elegant face.

She didn't show any sign of acknowledgement towards me and I arched a single brow. "Ignoring now, are we? That seems quite childish, love."

Her pale hand paused on the page and her fingertip marked the word she was on. She looked up, large violet eyes peeking through loose strands of black hair. "What do you want me to say? The delegates have already been selected. There is nothing more to discuss."

My brow furrowed and I walked closer, my bare feet smacking on the hardwood floor. "Well, we could at least go over the details," I said.

Nothing came from her except a slight sigh and then she went back to her reading. I frowned at her sudden disinterest. "Let us see," I mumbled softly as I stood across the table from her, "we have Carlisle Cullen, yes? I think that is an excellent choice. He knows quite a lot about the world and-"

"What are you getting at?" She set the book down and looked up at me. "Why are you doing this?"

My face fell slightly. It was not easy to annoy Eve - she was too liberal for her own good. I must have done something greatly influential for her to suddenly be so bothered by my very presence. "What exactly am I doing?" I gave her a crooked smile and her vibrant eyes narrowed.

"Interrupting me," she said calmly.

I sighed and pulled out the chair nearest to me, sitting down in the process. If you want to be interrupted, well, fine. She did nothing in response to my thoughts but once I reached out, quickly, and grabbed the book she was reading, I sure received recognition.

"Ah," I said as my eyes scanned the page, "Catching up on modern vampire literature, I see? The Vampire Lestat? Really? I doubt it is very realistic. And Lestat seems like a dreadful creature, from what I have heard about him." I could see over the edge of the book her face twisted into a glare. "What is it about?"

"A vampire," she retorted, "named Lestat. Now give the book back." I laughed at her description and dropped the thick book down on the table. She leaped over it and picked it up. "You do not have to be so exasperating all of the time, you know."

I leaned back in the chair and tapped on the table. "And you do not have to be so...what was the word Leah used? Theatrical? Yes. Perfect. You do not have to be so theatrical."

She took a deep breath before placing the open book upside down on the table. "You think I am theatrical?" Her icy laughter was hard. "Did you not see those Romanians? I tell you, they were much more theatrical than I could ever wish to be."

That may have been true, actually. The Romanians were fools, idiot vampires with no brains and even less of common sense. I was thrilled Chester had killed them; they had seen it coming for years. Of course, I would have loved to do the act myself but I was sure the unexpected fear they felt when an invisible man came after them was much scarier than knowing I was killing them.

I reached forward and cupped her face in my palm. Her eyes stared back, suspiciously. "And they were true monsters," I told her gently. "Their words - they upset you, did they not?"

She immediately pulled out of reach and snatched the book up with her. "Sometimes, Adam, you truly do annoy the hell out of me," she growled as she walked out of the room. I watched her go, brow knotted in great confusion.

I usually understood her so clearly. I could justify her actions and decode her most complicated thoughts. But now, when she used her mental shield, I could do nothing to break the wall down and untangle her beliefs. Almost everything she did left me more bewildered than I had been before.

I jumped out of the chair and followed after her. My hand involuntarily reached out and wrapped around her forearm, tugging her towards me. "What is the problem?" I asked, my voice low. I had to be cautious of the ears outside. Already, I counted nearly fifteen vampires eavesdropping. "Why are you running from me?"

She turned around to face me and threw the book at my chest in anger. I caught it, of course, but stared at her in utter shock.

"Because you are infuriating! Do you realize that? You are so close minded, so...so...so unable to see the bigger picture!" I stared down at her wide eyes and after a moment, blinked.

"The bigger picture?" Nonsense. "Eve, the bigger picture is how all of this will play out, is it not? Of course I see it. I am always thinking about it. Once this is finished, we will-"

"Exactly," she interrupted with a snarl, "what will we do once this is finished?"

Not this again. I groaned loudly and leaned against the wall as I cradled my head. "Please, please, just let it go. We cannot stay. It is not possible, not unless you want to go against the rules."

"Rules?" Her shriek was piercing. I flinched. "Rules? What rules? There are no rules! You just deny the fact that maybe we could go against the visions for once! And, for the record, Adam, the bigger picture is not that. Not to me, it is not."

Exhaustion settled in and I closed my eyes briefly. I was tired of fighting with her about this. She was too stubborn, as was I. Most times we grudgingly agreed to disagree but I had a feeling that would not cut it this time.

My eyes opened and lifted up slowly to stare at her. "Then what is the bigger picture?"

The wall broke, then, letting loose the floodgates of extreme disappointment and stinging heartache. Her thoughts were incoherent but her feelings were undeniably acute and bruised. What could I have missed throughout all of this? What could I have possibly overlooked or skimmed past in my haste to patch up the world?

Her eyes drifted downwards and she kicked the paperback novel lying at our feet which I had dropped. I heard the rustling of paper as she nudged it gently with her foot. "Us," she mumbled quietly, "I thought the bigger picture was always us."

Oh. I suddenly felt like a...what was the modern term? A jerk? Yes, that was what I felt like. I had obviously missed the numerous hints that she was upset and even when I had taken notice of them, I had pushed them to the back of my mind. And now she looked like she was about to...

...about to cry.

I pulled her against me, ignoring the reluctant, tense feel of her in my arms. I felt awful at that moment, like I had nearly forgotten the most important thing in my life. There was almost no excuse for how I had so easily disregarded her. I had been swept up by this current world, overwhelmed by what was occurring to take time and actually pay attention to my other half.

"I am so sorry," I muttered into her hair, "you are right. It is the most important, the most vital. I never should have thought otherwise. It is just so easy to get sucked into this world, to become distracted by everything that is happening around us." She wrapped her arms around me tightly and I kissed her hair. "I would trade the whole world for your happiness."

I automatically felt her pull back and she looked up at me, eyes full of wonderment. "Really?" she asked, her voice rising. "Are you telling me the truth?"

My hand lifted and I stroked her cheek with my thumb. "Of course; why would I lie?"

Her lips tugged downwards, as did her eyes. She stared straight ahead, ignoring my stare. "Because you always act like this, right now, these people and this planet, mean everything to you."

A part of me felt that was positively right. Was it not selfish to value one single person higher than the rest of the human, vampire, and shape shifter population? Was it not distasteful to be willing to throw the whole world away for just one person? As one of the most powerful creatures, I naturally should have used my abilities to heal the world, to nurture it into a better planet.

But, on the other hand, had I not done that already? Was it possible to think that my work was done, that I was off the hook? Could I now spend my time and my energy on Eve and not the world, falling apart around us?

"To an extent, yes. But, without a doubt, you will always mean more to me." And that was the honest truth. This whole world would mean nothing to me if Eve was absent from it.

Her eyes clouded over until they were like stormy orbs of dark lilac. "Then what do we do next? What do we do once this has finished? We have the delegates, we know how the conference is going to go, and we even know what follows. What comes afterwards?"

I sighed and let her go. We also knew that afterwards, we should be hibernating for centuries. But Eve refused to even contemplate that idea..."Let us think about it later, alright? For once, Eve, just let it go for the night. Please? We have the next two days to figure it out, even more after that. How about we gather the delegates and then discuss it?"

She huffed quietly and backed up even further before picking up the nearly forgotten novel lying on the floor. "Fine," she whispered, "but do not even think you are off the hook just yet, Adam." She stood up and glowered at me. "This is not over."

I smiled and reached for her hand. "Of course, dear. I know better by now than to believe you would so easily fail to remember the pressing issue." She snorted quietly and accepted my hand.

We walked through the kitchen and after she had deposited the flimsy book on the table, I led her towards the front door. The Cullens were outside on the porch, along with the Pack of shape shifters. I could tell the fires were mostly put out by now and the front lawn was swarming with vampires once again as they strolled carelessly over the gasoline soaked grass.

The door opened, revealing the charming wraparound porch and the land past it. Heads turned as we stepped outside and I felt the familiar charring as soon as I was directly below the full moon. Eve took a deep breath and walked in front of me until she was standing on the top step of the deck. I chose to hang back, hoping the overhang would be enough to shield me from the moon overhead.

Its opaque rays clawed through the wood above me until they were prickling through my flesh, causing me to shudder from the sudden coldness it brought on. I caught Esme Cullen's curious glance and looked away as she stared at me.

There was an abrupt silence from the vampires and I breathed out, watching the misty cloud my breath formed. I predicted it would be two hours and twenty three minutes until the sun came up. My freezing body could not wait until the moment the scorching sun rose over the horizon.

"Good evening," Eve said softly, though her voice easily carried over the front lawn. I stayed in the shadows of the porch, my eyes scanning over the intrigued faces of vampires.

"I take it by now you have all settled down, most likely waiting for these next two days to pass. That is very good; the next 48 hours will pass quickly. We, Adam and I, just wanted to make an announcement before you all return to your festivities. For the upcoming conference, we needed to select a few delegates to come with us, to represent different parts of the vampire world. And once this has all finished, you will be expected to continue to stand for the supernatural world and watch over it when Adam and I cannot." She paused for a moment before glancing back at me.

"Of course," I said, "any of you appointed can refuse. Eve and I both understand the amount of responsibility and dependability each of you must require for these positions. The two of us just need to be reassured that once we continue on, you will all be in good hands."

With the world changing so drastically, Eve and I had thought it would be wise to create our own vampiric government for once things had settled down. Especially if we did in fact hibernate afterwards, now we would know just who was ruling over the supernatural creatures. If the humans had several governments, it seemed only fair that we should be able to have one, too.

Eve nodded in agreement. "Yes, do not be afraid to turn down the position, as Adam said. And now, without further ado, I suppose we shall just give out the names."

I stepped out from under the overhang and stood next to her, avoiding the restless glances of the other vampires. Unlike Eve, I did not plan on making it a grand spectacle, revealing the names. "If the delegates could follow us inside once we have finished, it would be very much appreciated. Now, we have decided on Alistair from England, Benjamin from Egypt, Brandon from Washington D.C., Carlisle Cullen from the Pacific Northwest, Jasira from Tanzania, Luka from Russia, Maria from the Southern army, Michiko from Japan, Siobhan from Ireland, Zafrina from the Amazon and, to some surprise, Jacob Black from the shape shifter Pack."

There were muffled gasps and bouts of applause the moment my talking ceased. Jacob, not very far from us at all, was sitting there openmouthed. Eve and I turned around, expecting the chosen delegates to follow us back into the house.

"You must be joking!" someone cried out and I paused. "How is it fair that that ... dog is chosen and not one member of the Volturi is even thought of!"

I turned and faced Aro, who was stumbling through the crowd. I saw Eve purse her lips in irritation and I sighed. We had purposely left the Volturi out of this. They showed no perceptible beneficial power and with their rotten attitudes, it had been more of an advantage to keep them out of everything than a drawback.

"Aro," I soothed, "calm down. Jacob Black was chosen wisely. Are you denying my sister's and mine ability to think of the greater good?"

He threw his arms in the air, baffling the vampires around him. "Yes! For the love of all things holy, yes! We ruled this vampire community! We were its kings and queens! We deserve to be in this, deserve to have a role. If not for us, the vampire world would be in ruins!"

Eve and I shared a quick glance as everyone paused. "Your work is done, Aro. We both appreciate all that your coven has done but think of this as retirement. You do not have to worry about trivial governmental issues now."

Aro looked at me disbelievingly. "Retirement? And do you suggest renting out a beach house, drinking Bloody Mary's for the rest of my days on sandy white shorelines?"

"If you would like, of course. I strongly encourage a decade or two to regain your sanity in paradise. A private beach sounds just delightful." I smiled at him evenly. "And the Blood Mary's, simply delicious."

A few vampires chuckled softly but the Volturi did not share the widespread laughter. Funny, I noticed, how Aro seemed to be the only one of the main three members to appear disturbed. Caius was inspecting his fingernails with a bored expression and Marcus was rolling his eyes at Aro. Not even their wives looked put out. They all stood, arms looped, as their leader made a fool out of himself.

The only Volturi members who looked truly insulted were Jane and Alec, standing side by side and flanking Aro with malicious smirks on their sinful faces. As for the rest of the guard, they were either congratulating other chosen delegates or speaking to one another.

"This is a scam!" Aro's crows were loud as he twirled in a circle, addressing all of the other vampires. "They are going to rob us of our rights! Steal our freedom away! This is nonsense; the Romanians were right to do what they had planned. These two schmucks know no better than the average man!"

I tapped my fingernails against the porch railing and stared at him in calm patience. He quickly turned back to me, expecting some sort of retaliation as everyone else stared at him with puzzled looks.

"Are you done now?" I asked him slowly. Nothing but shallow breaths escaped his open mouth as he searched for words.

"Done?!" he eventually cried. "No! I want justice! I want a Volturi delegate! I want some sort of say in this new government."

My tapping ceased and I felt Eve's chilled presence behind me. Her violet eyes flicked over him carelessly. "Why, exactly?" Everyone looked up at the unruffled tone of her voice. "When a new government official is elected, the former has no say in what occurs next, do they? If they did, why would there be a new official to begin with?"

Aro paused and stared at her coldly. "But you weren't elected. You took control and forced us to follow you. You are both tyrants!" He raised a long finger and pointed to the two of us with one sharpened fingernail, a furious scowl growing on his face.

Murmurs rose from the crowd behind him and I looked towards Eve. Of course, leave it to Aro to perturb a rally of three hundred vampires. I would not have been surprised if he started a whole riot, the way he was screaming and throwing his arms about.

"Alright," I said harshly, "you want an election, you have a damn election." He immediately took a step backwards, his dark red eyes widening. "Who here approves of Eve and me taking control from here on out, replacing the Volturi?" I spat the last word, glowering at the bundle of misfits.

Jane's shrill hiss reached my ears and I turned towards her. "You are nothing but a persecutor!" Her snarl was low, rumbling in her tiny throat, and my eyes narrowed on her small form when I felt a slight tingling on my flesh, blossoming from my mind.

She was trying to torture me.

I stared at her for a moment, awed by the waves of pure hatred rolling off of her. She could not comprehend why her ability to torture others was not working on me. In reality, her power was just not strong enough to harm me. All I felt was an irritating stinging.

She was unafraid, foolishly fearless. Her emotions of invincibility annoyed me to no end. She thought no one could overcome her brother and her. Oh, how wrong she was. I waved my hand, almost too quick for her to see, and her eyes and mouth immediately sewed shut.

Her muted screams did not escape her stitched mouth and I smirked as she clawed at her closed eyelids. "There," I sighed. "Isn't that much better? That was practically community service, what I did right there."

Eve was utterly still next to me, though I could sense her growing amusement as Alec tried to rip out the unbreakable threads that bound his sister's mouth and eyes shut tight. "Take them off!" he cried as he ripped and tore at her face. "She can't see!"

"That is exactly the point," I boomed, shocking the vampires around me. "Your sister is nothing but a wretched torturer. She deserves to lose her sight, her power, for a year or two."

Aro stood, torn between watching Alec shred Jane's face and I. He finally turned towards me, teeth bared and eyes glowing. "Monster!" he screamed. "This is what I was talking about! You both will bring nothing but ill fortune to the vampire world! Leave! Go! Go back to where you came from and never return!"

My lips tore open as I snarled at him, exposing venom covered teeth. I would have lunged at him - I wanted to pounce on him and tear the nuisance apart. But Eve's restraining arm blocked me from doing so as she struck me in the chest.

"She had it coming," Eve barked out. "Anyone here would agree, the little devil deserved it. Now stop it, both of you, or it will be ten years until Jane sees or speaks again."

Aro's mouth snapped shut and I crossed my arms in front of my chest. He continued glaring at me, as did Alec as he cradled a sobbing Jane in his arms. "I want an election," he ordered. "Right now."

"Fine," I retorted as my lip curled. Eve sent me a warning look before stepping in.

"All of you who would prefer the Volturi rule and work this entire mess out, raise your hand," Eve said evenly. I paused and waited, my eyes sputtering over the crowds.

Aro raised his hand and I laughed incredulously. How stupid it was to vote for yourself. Soon after, Jane's trembling hand rose towards the air, as did Alec's. To my extreme entertainment, neither Caius nor Marcus raised their hands or even their wives. Felix raised his, as did Demetri and most of the guard.

Other than that, there were few vampires who sided with them. A few nomads raised their hands nervously, as did some puzzled soldiers.

And that was all.

I began chuckling instantly as Aro looked around, his mouth setting into a hard line as he searched for the support he had desired. "Looks like you are out of luck, Aro," I chortled. He turned towards me, hand still raised, and said nothing. "I suppose you are officially voted out of office."

Shaking, his hand slowly lowered until it was at his side, clenched into a tight fist. Everyone else with raised hands dropped theirs, staring at Eve and I anxiously. "That is that, then," Eve's tight tone echoed. "Delegates, inside, please."

She turned sharply and strode inside the house, waiting for me in the doorway. I paused, half turned, and my eyes fell on Jane's shaking form. Alec was perched over her, ruby eyes flashing in his ashen face as he watched me bitterly. "When she learns some manners," I whispered to him, "I shall take out the threads."

The side of his mouth twisted up in a gruesome growl and I turned away, walking towards Eve as the footsteps of other delegates reached my ears. Maria was right behind me, of course, since she had already been on the porch and, behind her, Carlisle Cullen followed, practically dragging a frozen Jacob Black along with him. Others trailed in after them.

Eve and I led the long line of eleven delegates into the large dining room we had spoken to the Cullens in, just a few hours ago. Carlisle took the very same seat he had been in before, putting a stunned and cautious Jacob next to him.

I stood with Eve at one head of the table as everyone else filed in. Benjamin sat next to Jacob, smiling kindly at him as Jacob flinched from the close proximity. On the other side of Benjamin was Zafrina, glaring moodily at Maria who was seated directly across from Carlisle. Siobhan sat on the other side of Zafrina as her and Carlisle shared a pointed look. Along the other side of the table was Maria, Brandon, Luka, Jasira, Michiko, and...

I snorted softly. Alistair was watching everyone suspiciously as he stood along the opposite wall in the gloomy darkness. Everyone else was mostly silent except a happily chatting Benjamin but Alistair refused to sit down.

"Alistair," Eve murmured gently, "there is an open seat next to Michiko."

His head snapped up, his black hair blending in with the dimmed shadows behind him. He was not physically old at all; I predicted him to be in his early thirties. But his face was jumpy, his eyes glazed and hysterical. Insanity's grip on him had aged him when natural maturity had not.

"Why am I here?" His voice was hoarse and stretched. "Why was I chosen? I do not belong here. I do not even want to be here." He twitched ever so slightly and my shoulders sagged as I glanced at Eve.

She sighed and tapped the tabletop absentmindedly. "Alistair, you are special." You could say that, I thought. Eve's lips pulled upwards. "You are one of the oldest ones here. You have seen more than anyone can imagine. You are powerful, intelligent, and vigilant. Come, you deserve to be here just as much as everyone else."

She gestured towards the empty seat next to Michiko, who sat staring at him with wide eyes. Without even listening to her thoughts, I could tell she was strongly against the mentally insane Alistair sitting beside her.

Alistair slowly moved from the dark corner he was hunched in and walked sluggishly towards the table. He pulled the chair out next to Michiko, glaring at her balefully, before sliding into the seat agilely. Michiko shifted to the side, closer to Jasira, as Alistair sat there growling to himself. I reached up and leaned my head on my hand as I watched him tiredly.

"Settled now?" I asked him quietly. His black eyes flicked up from the table and focused in on my face. He nodded stiffly with still lips, finally putting an end to his maddening grumbling. "Terrific. Let us get started."

I motioned towards Eve and she smiled down at the expectant vampires. "You are all here for a reason. We cannot fully fit into this new world without some sort of government, without authoritative figures or diplomats. You represent not only your respective covens, or in Jacob Black's state, his whole species, but for some of you, you represent all vampires in that area. To Adam and me, your opinion is as valued as our own."

My eyes shut briefly as I nodded slowly in agreement. All of their eyes, one pair of topaz, one pair of dark brown, and the rest mixed between bright red and flat black, watched me intently. "And is there no one who would like to pass out on this offer? Run now or forever hold your peace." I grinned as I arched a brow.

No one said anything. Not even Alistair who sat there staring down at his folded hands.

"I have a question," Carlisle spoke up calmly. My head swiveled to look at him. "Why exactly do you need us? Believe me, I am quite honored and I have a feeling everyone else here is, too, but the two of you are more powerful than all eleven of us combined. What purpose could we possibly have?"

My eyes turned over to Eve and found her to be staring at Carlisle coolly. "We do not know where we will be once everything passes," she mumbled, ignoring my look. "We may be able to stay for a while; we might not be able to. We want vampires we can trust to take over the vampire world and not destroy it."

Luka snickered. "Unlike the Volturi?"

Eve and I both smiled. "Exactly," I said, "And, of course, there are some things about each of your covens that we do not know about. When this conference arrives, we cannot speak for every single vampire. We do not know what everyone would approve of, what everyone would agree of. So we ask you all to stand for a large number of vampires; to not just keep in mind your own beliefs and desires."

My eyes fell on Jacob Black, sitting rigidly in his seat as he gazed at the tabletop intensely. His thoughts were webs of bafflement and slight interest as to what was occurring. Carlisle's presence calmed him, I realized, as Jacob's mind drifted back to the admirable blonde vampire beside him.

"And you, Jacob," I addressed him and his dark head snapped up, "you are even more important. You represent your whole Pack in this. We have not forgotten about the shape shifter colony. Your species will be included in this conference and in the events that follow. If you do not want the position, possibly Sam...?"

He froze and looked up, eyes tight. Carlisle turned and looked at him with warm eyes as Jacob thought about it. "No," he said and then cleared his throat. "No, I'm fine with it."

"Ah, good. Good." I would have rather had Jacob in on this anyway. It was not that I did not like Sam; he was perfectly capable of maintaining the job. He was just too attached to shape shifter beliefs and too stiff around vampires. At least Jacob knew the ways of our people from being around the Cullens. Plus, I had a feeling Carlisle would guide Jacob through everything with a steady hand while he may have left Sam to figure it all out on his own.

"What's the game plan?" Maria's soprano voice broke the silence and Eve looked to her. "What's going to happen in this conference?" Everyone else looked towards us in anticipation.

Eve looked down at her with loving eyes. "We see what their terms are. We need to work out a set of rules if they accept us, a sort of foundation for years to come. I am sure creating new vampires will be a topic of discussion, as will be where we can live and our diet."

"Be warned," I told them all, "vegetarianism may be our only option."

Everyone looked up in astonishment, except for Carlisle and Jacob.

"What?" Brandon hissed. "You have got to be kidding me! I'm all for integration but, for the love of God, what the hell is there to eat off of in the capitol except for tourists? No, that is impossible. Vegetarianism means moving for most of us. Not all of the covens live in thick wilderness."

Michiko nodded slowly. "He is right. My coven lives in Osaka; we cannot get a hold of the predators that live in the thick forests of other countries."

I heard Maria huff. "I agree. There are not enough coyotes around here to supply the whole army with blood." I sighed and dropped my head. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted Carlisle's shrewd gaze on me.

"See? This is exactly what we will have to figure out by the conference. We have to be accepting of anything and everything they throw our way. If not, if we seem too picky or too demanding, they will cut us off from the world just like that." I snapped my fingers for emphasis. "We take whatever they have to give us."

Brandon grumbled under his breath. "Even if that means starvation?"

"Do not be silly," Eve chided, rolling her eyes for flair. "There will be no starvation. We just need some sort of idea of what we can handle. The vampire world has to be willing to try something new - like vegetarianism, perhaps. It is the whole give and take system, is it not? Give up our ways and take their tolerance of us."

"That is easy for you to say," Jasira said with a thick, cultured African accent. "You do not drink blood, not often. You do not feel the thirst we do."

I looked up at her and ground my teeth. "Maybe not," I muttered, "but someone here does. Someone here has switched over completely to vegetarianism. Carlisle?" I turned and looked pleadingly towards him. "Care to shed some light on the situation?"

His ocher eyes glanced between Jasira and me unhurriedly. He laid his hands out on the tabletop and took a deep breath. "It is difficult, yes," he said thoughtfully, "but it becomes easier with time. Some of the soldiers may have a bit of trouble with it - I know Jasper did. But I think if we truly want to be put up with, we need to sacrifice a bit. In the end, it could definitely be worth all of our effort."

"And the taste?" Brandon asked, arching a brow. Carlisle looked over at him as he considered it.

"I hear it is a bit blander, a bit less flavorful. I would not know for sure; I never tasted human blood." I froze then, my eyes narrowing in on Carlisle's face. Never tasted human blood. Not once in almost four hundred years. That fact left me breathless. He very well could have been the only vampire in the world that I was impressed by.

"My son, Edward, he compares it to being a human living off of tofu and soy. It will be hard to accustom to, but not impossible. You will miss the tangy taste of human blood and endlessly be tempted by it but the thirst can be overpowered. The predators are the closest to human blood," he finished, never looking away from Brandon's pensive look, "Animals like bears, different wild cats, and, sorry," he glanced to Jacob, "wolves."

"So there you have it!" I smiled, looking over towards Brandon. He sat there, head propped up under his fist. "It is possible. Thank you, Carlisle. I am sure your words must have made some sort of effect."

Rustlings of disagreement reached my ears and then Luka shrugged. "I suppose I am in, as is my coven. There are many, many animals we can hunt off of in Russia. Almost too much, considering the size of my coven in comparison to the size of our country."

Eve and I smiled thankfully in easy going Luka's direction. "Thank you, Luka. Just be sure not to kill so quickly, you could wipe out the entire population. I have a feeling the humans would notice that." I winked and Luka laughed appreciatively.

"And what about the army?" Maria wondered. "What will we do? Or the Washington coven? I would consider the option of vegetarianism but I cannot say the same for some of my soldiers."

I glanced over at Carlisle and his eyes darted up and he inclined his head ever so noticeably. "Carlisle, what do you have to tell us about the blood bank system?"

His jaw dropped slightly and he quickly recomposed himself. "The blood banks? Well, my God, they are always in use with humans. I do not see how we could ever acquire enough blood to feed the whole vampire population."

"The Red Cross?" I slyly suggested and he began to chuckle disbelievingly.

"What you are asking, what you are suggesting, it's...it's...it's far from possible-"

"But is it impossible?" I asked. He opened his mouth and I raised my hand. "No, think about it for a moment, Carlisle. We have what? Roughly three hundred vampires. Fifteen of them drink animal blood and a large portion of the others are willing to try that idea. Say we can get, oh, one hundred and fifty vampires to switch over to your vegetarianism. Is it possible to get enough blood for another one hundred and fifty?"

Carlisle paused. "Well, maybe, yes, but for how long? That's the question. Will the government have to begin a Meals on Wheels program for vampires now? Is that what you are saying? Humans have to donate blood for vampires for all of eternity?"

I chuckled, shaking my head. "No, no. Of course not. Just until the vampires with problems resisting can work out their control issues, just until they can fully devote to the vegetarianism lifestyle."

Zafrina shook her head. "But wait, why will any of them even try vegetarianism if they know they can just go to a hospital and ask for a bag of Type A blood? There will be no motivation to work on their control if they know there is a backup plan."

Brandon began chuckling. "Dear Zafrina," he said and the Amazon woman gazed at him sharply. "Have you ever even tried cold blood? Believe me, once they hear the alternative, they will be breaking into zoos to get blood."

She raised a dark brow. "It's called microwaves."

Even Jacob snorted at that one. "Wait, wait," he said, cutting in as everyone looked at him doubtfully, thinking the same thing. A shape shifter discussing vampire issues? Most felt he was too naïve to understand what we were speaking about. "What if we had a program, a sort of voucher? Because, c'mon guys, there won't be enough animals to go around forever."

Eve frowned. "Good point," she mumbled. "Some are endangered already. If we do not switch hunting grounds regularly, we will wipe them out completely."

"Exactly," Jacob pressed. "So why not begin a sort of rotation?"

"Rotation?" Brandon asked with a hint of curiosity evident in his tone. "What sort of rotation?"

Jacob shrugged helplessly. "Well, say we could get the national parks, the animal reserves, all of those, to pitch in? PETA may have a field day but it's better than killing innocents. Humans will never even think of accepting you if they know you may be hunting them down in the middle of the night. So some of you go on waiting lists for national parks while others get blood from hospitals."

Brandon sighed, his eyes glittering like cold jewels as he watched the Alpha. I smiled lightly and leaned back, impressed by Jacob's idea. For one who could not even imagine drinking blood or living like we did, he sure did know how to come up with a plan.

"What do you mean by ‘waiting list'?" Maria asked as she looked up, craning her neck to look at Jacob.

He glanced shiftily and frowned. "Well, like, you sign up, right? They record you down on a list and once they have, say, an elderly, near-death bison in Yellowstone, they call you up and ship it off."

Brandon snorted loudly. "Elderly, near-death bison? I predict that is so the animal activists don't throw a riot?

Jacob grinned. "Precisely."

Carlisle nodded thoughtfully. "And the Red Cross. Thousands of people donate blood a day. They could donate simply for the use of vampires, going into a large storage for us. Vampires could go to the nearest hospital and collect blood."

Benjamin, who was silently sitting there, shook his head. "It needs to be more organized than that," he argued. "We need to have identification. Possibly a checklist of vampires? There needs to be order to this. You can't just stroll in and ask for seven bags of blood." He paused and looked around Jacob to Carlisle, eyes wide and innocent. "Or can you?"

Carlisle frowned disapprovingly. "Not unless you want the nurses to call security."

"Damn," Benjamin huffed.

"Alright," I said over their voices, "If we could organize a system, possibly a way of keeping track of vampires, what would it be? Are you suggesting a national list of vampires, keeping tabs on them through credit cards, passports, driver's license and other legal documents?"

Jacob reached up and rubbed his temples as Brandon sighed and leaned back in his chair as he scraped designs into the wooden table with his fingernail. I looked around the table, waiting for more fervor but found none. Benjamin was deep in thought, Zafrina was looking at Brandon in extreme distaste, Siobhan was cradling her head in her hands, Alistair was staring at the wall intently, Michiko was looking at her polished fingernails, Jasira was watching Eve and me, Luka was humming a melody under his breath, and Maria was biting her lip.

Such enthusiasm.

"This is going to be a long night, isn't it?" Carlisle said in an optimistic tone. I breathed out and shook my head slowly.

"You mean day," I corrected, glancing out the window on the opposite wall as the fiery sun peeped over. "And, yes, a long day, indeed."